Concert Reviews

Gogol Bordello, Wu-Tang Clan, Taking Back Sunday, & More at Riot Fest Day 2

Photos by Katrina Lat

Captains Log, Adult Warp tour day #2:

It was hot, hotter in fact than the previous day yet we, joined by thousands of fellow music fans set forth for another day of fun in the sun. Our first band of the day was Bayside, doing an unusual but much appreciated cold walkout (no ‘warm up’ music). With great guitar-y pep they lit into their first number, a bass driven bit with soulful lyrics and an allegory for a drummer. Performing a crowd-pleasing set of some of their best, old and new they gave the people what they came for and the people wanted more. Next up came Fidlar leading with a Beastie Boys tribute (Sabotage) the majority of their performance can be best described as indie with an edge or the Ramones with greater complexity. Driving melodies and honest lyrics evoked images of empty city blocks and misbegotten youth.

Shortly after that we made our way over to the Radical stage to take in something of an enigma, a sort of (seeming) Rastafarian punk band, although the garbled lyrics, pour balance and general disarray (musically and physically) evident on stage made it difficult to classify much less supply an adequate appraisal of the experience. Despite this regrettable experience the following group left us with no regrets. The Regrettes took to the stage like they owned it and didn’t care who new it. This all female punk band showcased a style that vacillated between driving pop punk choruses and melodic, verbally complex verses. After giving us permission to dance they launched in to a light hearted speed-punk number featuring an intriguing descending bass line who’s minor qualities gave the music a more serious feel despite the quick tempo and straight forwards guitar driven theme. Before finishing their set the began one number with a Barbershop quartet style introduction that quickly lead to a beautifully aggressive number ripping into small men (Mr. Trump in particular as it was dedicated to him and his ilk).

Going from femme-punk to Spanish-Irish style-drinking punk should be and was a natural progression and so was Gogol Bordello. Exuding energy of the main stage they came out with the kind of energy usually reserved for teenagers on spring break and held a good old-fashioned foot stomping party with overdrive. Halfway through their set their guitarist ripped an alluring Hassidic-Roma style guitar solo, completely unexpected but most welcome in the beautiful madness occurring on stage. For the first time that day the party was on stage and in the field. In good spirits we made our way to another old favorite: New Found Glory.

They may be glorious but it would appear that since their initial rise to fame they haven’t found much newness. If playing hits and pleasing the people is what they came to do then it is what they did. Then there was the Wu and thou shalt have no other Wu before them, after all they gods in the pantheon of rap. The lights went down and then slowly like a ninja RZA appeared behind the Dj booth to cheers and cries of adulation. As the rest of the group made their way on stage, a remarkable feat in an of itself as they rarely all perform together they brought with them 25 years of experience and stage presence bowling over us like a runaway train. Leading off with one of their signature hits Wu-Tang-Clan ain’t Nuthin to F*** With they blessed us with selections from their multiple decades of performance, including a live premier of a new work: People Say. After such a radically different but both moving and powerful performance we made our way to Taking Back Sunday.

After so many years in performance, Sunday isn’t the only thing this band needs to take back. Whilst an inability to sing a certain way creates a certain signature sound the difference between recordings and the live band was questionable the last time I heard them and this time I regret to say I was equally disappointed if not surprised. Queens of The Stone Age offered a refreshing finish to the evening, their mix of trance like samples and ability to turn extraordinarily heavy guitar riffs into mesmerizing melodies remains unparalleled to our great enjoyment. So in Royal fashion we finished the second day of Riot Fest Chicago.